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Hosted in the Great Halls at London Bridge’s Vinopolis venue by the amiable comedian/actor and jazz aficionado, John Thomson – of The Fast Show and Cold Feet fame –  the 2015 Jazz FM Awards witnessed a varied and eclectic range of nominees within the world of soul, jazz and blues music. Among the winners were stellar US singers Dianne Reeves, Gregory Porter and Dr. John – all of whom were sadly absent from the proceedings  but who gave acceptance speeches via video – as well as UK musicians, Zara McFarlane, Shaba Hutchings, Go Go Penguin, and Snarky Puppy keyboardist Bill Laurance. Best soul singer award went to rising star, JARROD LAWSON, who fought off strong competition from fellow Americans, Lalah Hathaway and D’Angelo. He also sat at the piano afterwards and performed a spellbinding rendition of Donny Hathaway’s ‘A Song For You.’

South African flugelhorn maestro, HUGH MASEKELA, picked up a much-deserved Lifetime Achievement award presented to him by Channel 4 newscaster, Jon Snow. The veteran musician also performed a haunting duet with his long-time pianist,  Larry Willis. Other performances came from the scintillating House Gospel Choir, whose dynamic vocal interplay was both captivating and uplifting, and husky-voiced pop chanteuse, Rebecca Ferguson, who delivered a superb vocal tribute to jazz icon Billie Holiday. 

Full list of WINNERS (and nominees) for the Jazz FM Awards 2015:

Album of the Year (Public vote):

WINNER: Dianne Reeves (“Beautiful Life”)

Nominees: Ambrose Akinmusire (“The Imagined Savior is Far Easier to Paint”), D’Angelo (“Black Messiah”), Chris Potter Underground Orchestra (“Imaginary Cities”), Polar Bear (“In Each and Every One”), Troyka (“Ornithophobia”)

Live Experience of the Year, sponsored by 7digital (Public Vote):

WINNER: Loose Tubes at Cheltenham Jazz Festival

Nominees: Blue Note 75th Birthday at EFG London Jazz Festival, Jamie Cullum at Love Supreme Jazz Festival

UK Jazz Act of the Year sponsored by Yamaha Music (Public Vote):

WINNER: GoGo Penguin

Nominees: Polar Bear, Sons of Kemet

Breakthrough Act, sponsored by Aberdeen Asset Management:

WINNER: Bill Laurance

Nominees: GoGo Penguin, Peter Edwards

Instrumentalist of the Year:

WINNER: Shabaka Hutchings

Nominees: Alex Hawkins, Laura Jurd

Vocalist of the Year, sponsored by CityJet:

WINNER: Zara McFarlane

Nominees: Alice Zawadzki, Lauren Kinsella

Jazz Innovation of the Year, sponsored by Mishcon de Reya:

WINNER: Jason Moran

Nominees: Henry Threadgill, Theo Croker

International Jazz Artist of the Year, sponsored by Taylor’s Port:

WINNER: Gregory Porter

Nominees: Snarky Puppy, Antonio Sanchez

Blues Artist of the Year:


Nominees: Otis Taylor, Valerie June

Soul Artist of the Year, sponsored by Conrad London St. James:

WINNER: Jarrod Lawson

Nominees: D’Angelo, Lalah Hathaway

PPL Lifetime Achievement:

Hugh Masekela